Monday 20 December 2010

Should I buy an electric car?

I have a largely unreasonable yearning for a cool new electric car.

I'd think I'd be a reasonable candidate. The majority of our car trips are down to Ithaca and back, which is about 10 miles each way, so a car with a 50 mile range would be quite adequate. We have half price power at night when I'd be recharging it. We have another car (well, three, actually, including my wife's 1995 pickup, but we'd rationalize) for longer trips.

There's now a standard charger called a J1772, so the charger installation is the same for any of them.

So here's what I think the near term options are. I think the Leaf looks most attractive.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Battered Leader Syndrome

From Wikipedia: ``a person ... becomes depressed and unable to take any independent action that would allow him or her to escape the abuse. The condition explains why abused people often do not seek assistance from others, fight their abuser, or leave the abusive situation. Sufferers have low self-esteem, and often believe that the abuse is their fault. Such persons usually refuse to press criminal charges against their abuser, and refuse all offers of help, often becoming aggressive or abusive to others who attempt to offer assistance. Often sufferers will even seek out their very abuser for comfort shortly after an incident of abuse.''

On tax cuts for millionaires: “This is the public-option debate all over again,” Mr. Obama complained, adding: “Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then, let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of pre-existing condition, or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.”

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Where'd that deal come from?

I read a Salon article that points out that the best predictor of whether a president gets a second term is the state of the economy, so this whole negotiation has been a clever ruse to pass a StimPak II and to try and perk things up by 2012.  While this does fit the facts pretty well, it assumes a level of economic understanding by the administration that has not so far been apparent. So it might just be doing mostly the right thing for the wrong reason.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Where's the open source search engine?

We have a wildly popular open source crowd sourced encyclopedia in Wikipedia. Everyone uses search engines, so is there a crowd sourced one?

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Apple crumble

By popular (well, someone asked) demand:

1/2 peck apples, see below
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats

The coming political scene

A friend asked whether I thought the Laffer Curve, beloved of many Republicans, had any use in the real world.

It's somewhat possible that Laffer applies to corporate income taxes, but only because multinationals can choose when to repatriate income and hence wait for tax rates to change. I agree there's no evidence it ever applied domestically, even back in the 50's when the top rate was 91%.

At this point, we have the Republicans who are quite skilled at campaigning but utterly incompetent at governing, and the Democrats who are surprisingly good at governing but can't campaign their way out of a shoebox. You may not like what the recent Congress did, but the Dems delivered on their major campaign promises, including the biggest healthcare and banking laws in a generation. If they had run on their record rather than running away from it, they might well have won.

Why I'm not buying a Chevy Volt

(Other than the fact that it's not for sale here yet, that is.)
It's an incredibly overcomplicated mash-up of electric and hybrid technology.  It's got a low-speed motor, a separate high speed motor, a gas engine that can drive the high speed motor as a generator, and a mechanical connection so the high speed motor/generator drives the wheels directly, i.e., an ordinary car.  There's a management system of the complexity you'd expect to run all the gears and clutches to control all this stuff.